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gwynne2006

Butterflies, Eggs, And Caterpillars

gwynne2006
16 years ago

Okay, maybe I shouldnt have pluralized everything. I see most of my butterflies at nurseries. I am not outside a lot during the day and my lunch hour is really my only time during the week to observe butterflies. In addition to raising them, I enjoy photographing them and photographing flowers, too. So a lot of lunch hours find me at one nursery on another.

I had been seeing a couple of butterflies I thought were red admirals at one nursery. I stopped at another nursery today and saw one and was able to get a picture and compared it to my book, so I am sure it is a red admiral. In fact, I saw two of them. I dont know how to tell the sexes apart, though. Now all I need is some false nettle! Well, enough to send away for some caterpillars.

When I got home, my big monarch castle was on the floor. I was expecting some BSTs to eclose this week so I figured I had some very eager BSTs or ny domestic cats saw them and knocked the cage over. Even though the first two caterpillars pupated within an hour of each other, only one eclosed today, a big girl who just wanted to be on her way, probably after spending the afternoon being terrorized by my cats. She was fine, the cats didnt hurt her, just knocked her mesh cage down, but I am sure she was frightened.

I was eating dinner on my balcony and I joked to my friend that I was going to look for some eggs on the parsley and rue. To my astonishment, I found a big egg on the rue. I am hoping it is a GST. I am sure it is a BST. As long as it is a healthy egg, that is all I care about, but just the possibility of a GST is exciting. I dont think I have ever seen one, at least not up close. Then when I was looking at the parsley, I found another baby caterpillar on the same plant I had found the egg on last week. Obviously, there were at least two eggs and I missed one. I also rescued either a third caterpillar or a piece of dirt. I should know it a day or so which it is.

I have no idea how much rue and passiflora (which I have growing) and false nettle (which I dont have) that I would need to have enough to order eggs from Shady Oak or Shady Brook Farms, I forget the name. I obviously want to order more than one or two caterpillars at a time! At the same time, I dont know how much they eat and wouldnt want to order too many caterpillars. I am afraid of not being able to grow food fast enough this season. I dont know when people start ordering these types of plants if they are not sold in nurseries in their area and they are starting from scratch. But I am having more fun now that I am finding caterpillars and eggs. It is so funny how I dont see any signs of butterflies but they have to be there at some point!

Comments (22)

  • texaspuddyprint
    16 years ago

    Congrats on finding the eggs and cats :o)

    Not sure what your best planting and butterfly season is but out here the Fall is what we all look forward to.

    I ordered liners from Shady Oaks (butterfliesEtc) a couple of months ago and the plants are doing extremely well...too well I think...I need to cut them back and get them into shape for the Fall season. They have such wonderful plants.

    Why purchase caterpillars? You know if you plant it they will come. Finding those eggs and cats in your yard shows you that :o) but guess if you're looking for other species that aren't as common there...it's a good enough idea.

    I still prefer to plant the larval hosts to entice them to my yard. It really works because I purchased a Guava tree last September and have a second brood of caterpillars on it now. Must be close to 100 cats on it at this time. The first brood was only 15.

    Pretty good I'd say considering I saw a couple of Guava Skippers nectaring in my yard last year and bought the tree in the hopes the next generation would find and use it this year.

    Yep! Am well on my way to having my own Guava Skipper colony!!! Which is a great thing since the most anyone ever sees at the butterfly park or other butterflies gardens are one or two. Arrrroooooooh!!!

    ~ Cat

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    The only butterflies I have raised are monarchs and black swallowtails. The monarchs eggs and caterpillars I found last year on milkweed near my apartment though I am not having any luck this year.

    The BST caterpillars I found in nurseries. It is only this year, in the last week, that I have had three BST eggs in my garden. I am on the second floor of an apartment and dont have a real garden. That is why I am trying to grow host plants to send away for caterpillars since I dont have the option to do much planting. But I am floored that I got three BST eggs when I have never even seen a butterfly in my balcony garden except for those I release and I am sure they are not preggars when I release them!

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  • susanlynne48
    16 years ago

    Oh, just give it a few more days, Gwynne, you're likely to find more eggs.

    I released a female BST yesterday, and had released a male 2 days before hand. When I checked my SMALL fennel plants yesterday, I counted at least 30 eggs before giving up - all on these 4 small fennel plants. I checked the Rue in the backyard, but didn't find any eggs on it, or the parsley. So, I guess they were hanging out in the front yard. Now, I'm about to head to the nursery to pick up some more fennel. I guess this is going to be the year of the BST for me, oh, and the Question Marks. I retrieved another small QM cat off the Elm and a Hackberry Emperor cat off the Hackberry yesterday, too.

    My last HE did not make it to pupation stage; don't know why. If this one doesn't make it, perhaps I should just leave them on the trees. There really are large enough numbers of them that I don't need to worry about the population. But, I really enjoy seeing the different stages, chrysalis and emergence of different butterflies, too.

    I can send you some seeds of False Nettle when they begin producing, and some of mine are flowering as we speak. The flowers have yet to make it to a stage where I can pull them off the plant yet, though. And, although I've seen plenty of Red Admirals this year, none of them layed eggs on my plants - what's up there?

    Susan

  • tdogmom
    16 years ago

    I have Rue seeds, if you want 'em. :) You need at least ten Milkweed plants (in my opinion) to get those Monarchs to sniff your yard out! I had five originally but as soon as I had at least ten, the butts found my yard. ;P

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I went a little nuts at the nursery yesterday buying plants to attract butterflies. The only thing is, I have a very limited amout of host plants. I have parsley, rue, and passiflora. I am not even sure if there are gulf frits around here even though they are listed in my book. And from what I have read, I dont have enough passiflora to support too many caterpillars.

    Susan, false nettle seeds would be very appreciated. I have seen red admirals at two nurseries. The nursery I went to yesterday had red admirals there the last three times I went.

    I have never seen a question mark or an HE. That doesnt mean we dont have them, that could mean I cant identify them though I do have a book of the butterflies local to this region.

    Tdogmom, I have a couple of milkweed plants on my balcony that I sent away for. They arent doing very well and I dont really have enough room to plant a lot of them, especially since there are plenty of milkweed that grow wild. My balcony is about 6 feet by 12 feet so I have to carefully select what I have room to plant. And of course everything goes in planters so I have decided to just make due with any monarch larva I can find on the wild plants. So far that has been none.

    I did release three BSTs yesterday, two girls and a boy, bringing the total for this year up to six.

    I am still surprised to have found eggs when I have never seen a visitor to my garden except for one cabbage patch butterfly that stayed two seconds before moving on to greener pastures.

  • cecropia
    16 years ago

    It's really cool that you got BST eggs on your balcony!I've got lots of rue and fennel in my yard but no eggs or cats yet.The monarchs laid eggs on my milkweeds,and the RA's keep laying them on my nettles but they are very hard to see because they blend in perfectly with the leaves and are quite small.You would likely get RA eggs if you had some nettles,but one average size plant could probably only feed 2 or 3 cats.

  • susanlynne48
    16 years ago

    I wonder if a lot of the butterflies are delayed due to the rains we've experienced from Texas up through Kansas? It hasn't gotten as hot as it normally does here yet either, which sometimes presses them northward. Just a thought. I've had a lot more BSTs, Tigers, and finally a Pipevine this year, than ever before. Seems like they've been hanging around here longer than they usually do. But, our temps are supposed to go up soon....maybe. Depends on which weather reports you rely on here. LOL!

    Susan

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Cecropia, I was pretty excited to find my 'own' eggs. I havent found any monarch eggs this year though. I dont know of any place that carries nettle around here so I would have to send away for it. That gets to be sort of expensive after awhile! But I am primarily seeing red admirals at the nursery. In fact, even though I am raising BSTs, I am just finding the caterpillars and a couple of eggs, not even seeing the butterflies except for mine when they eclose.

    Susan, someone told me one of the states had a lot of yellow swallowtails. They had a warm spell, the swallowtails were tricked into coming out, then there was a freeze and there are no butterflies around because they didnt survive the freeze. I would have to look back in my emails to see what state this happened in. The person told m this about a month ago. I guess weather could play a big role in anything.

    Gwynne

  • susanlynne48
    16 years ago

    Geez, I don't know, Gwynne, but that's probably what happened to a lot of the butterflies heading north.

    All I know is that I got a few, very few, BST eggs, but once they started eclosing, I got more, and more, and more. So, once yours begin to eclose you'll probably get more eggs, too.

    I noticed last night that I had MORE BST eggs on my fennel. They're just gonna have to eat some parsley and Rue if they're gonna survive.

    Susan

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I can understand that, Susan, but I have seen very few eastern swallowtails around here this year and not any in weeks. We havent had a freeze like I was describing. Perhaps I am not looking in the correct places. I have had a couple of men who arent even interested in butterflies but know of my interest tell me they have seen butterflies and what they are describing sounds like ESTs. To be honest, I am not outdoors during the week much and I usually see most of my butterflies at nurseries. I did see a couple of butterflies fly past my boss's window today but couldnt see what type they were.

  • aggscott
    16 years ago

    Gwynne
    I have found Monarch's here in PA!!! I just came home from vacation and from being in the car with four kids for five hours-I wanted to walk. So I packed up my backpack and away I went-
    I walked up to the Milkwed patch(my other really,really, big patch was cut down right before I left, I cried that is how upset I was, but that is another story)I checked the bottom of a leaf-there it was. On to the next, another one-I walked away with five eggs for now. I was so happy!
    I hope you find them very soon, they are coming. Good luck with your new eggs-that's great. I checked my plants when I got home but I didn't see anything. I'll check again tomorrow, maybe.
    Oh and today on the butterfly bush I had an American Lady-never saw one of those before but, are they pretty! Also a Question Mark, again never saw them before-they are so neat looking. Four Red Admirals all at one time. Now that is amazing, I saw one last year and now they are all over the place here.

    Aggie

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Four kids for five hours? Are you sure you didnt want to run? I am just teasing you.

    I checked two nurseries today for BST caterpillars, nothing. I also checked the milkweed patch for eggs and didnt find anything. I am seeing a lot of red admirals at the nurseries.

    Glad you are having some luck!

  • caterwallin
    16 years ago

    Aggie, Woohoo, glad to hear that you have Monarchs there! I had a female deposit some eggs here not this past Sunday but the Sunday before. My biggest cat hatched the following Wednesday night and is now 1-1/2" long. It will probably pupate in another 4 or 5 days. I slmost can't believe how fast it grew just from yesterday to today, over 1/2" more! I bet you'll have lots of fun raising the ones there as soon as the eggs hatch. I only saw one Monarch since then and it hasn't stayed. I don't know if it took them this long last year or not. I didn't find my first Monarch cat last year until the beginning of August, so actually the laying was over a month earlier this year. I'm so excited that things will soon be booming here and I bet there too.

    I never saw an American Lady either. So far this year I've seen Cabbage White, Monarch, Great Spangled Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Clouded Sulphur, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail,Silver-spotted Skipper, Spicebush Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Red Admiral, Common Wood Nymph, Painted Lady, and I think that's it. Although I have seen all of those, it's not like I've seen a lot of them. The joke would really be on me if I don't get many Monarch eggs this year since I have so much milkweed.
    Cathy

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Cathy, arent you the one who was going to ship milkweed to people and got egged before you could? I might have the wrong person. I was getting ready to ask if you were still getting more eggs because I wanted to buy a plant since I cant find any monarchs here!

    If it was you who got egged, what was the end result? Did you keep all the eggs? I see from the message above that you are raising some monarch caterpillars. I was just wondering if you did ship any plants with the eggs and if so, what the end result was. If I have the wrong person, please say so:)

  • caterwallin
    16 years ago

    Gwynne, Yes, I'm the person who was shipping out plants to some people on the birding forum that I visit. I checked to make sure that there were no eggs on any of the plants that I sent them because I didn't know if they would go to the "bother" of raising the cats or just put the plant outside with no protection. I'm sure since you're on here you know how to raise a Monarch, so I wouldn't have a problem sending you a plant with an egg on if only I'd get a female back here to lay eggs. I thought I was going to really have a lot of cats here, but she must have been traveling through and then moved on her way, I guess. I've only seen one Monarch since that day and not since then. I don't know if that one was a male or female, but it apparently left too. If you want to email me your address and if I get any more laying here before you get them there, I'll send you a plant with an egg on it if I can find any laid on the plants that I have in cups sometime.
    Cathy

  • aggscott
    16 years ago

    I found 10 more eggs today at a side road location near my house. I guess because most of the Milkweed got killed near my big patch they have began using the side roads. The only problem is that it is a parking lot for a bar. When they get out of there cars, they might step on them so I took them all.
    The ones I found last night all hatched today about the same time so I am off to a good start so far..

    Aggie

  • tdr4
    16 years ago

    My milkweed died during the winter. Some came back but was too late for spring monarch cats. I have plants now but am having trouble with large black grqasshoppers eating it. I have had BSTs and Gulf Frits so far. I cannot seem to raise GST. I have a citrus tree but can't keep any cats alive and healthy. I had Sulfers last fall. I transplanted weeds with yellow blooms and they worked. They are growing back nicely. I plant my Milkweeds from seeds that I collected. My first plants I ordered off the Internet 2 years ago. I am still trying to get more larval plants. I have not been happy with all that I oredered this year.

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Here is the post I was looking for. I am definately interested in eggs, Cathy, as I have not found a single one. I will email you after work to see if you have some available.

    Gwynne

  • susanlynne48
    16 years ago

    TDR4 - you are close to MissSherry. Perhaps she can recommend some alternative host plants for your GSTs. I know that Rue works for GSTs, but it probably won't draw in the larger populations. GSTs, unlike their appearance, are more fragile IMHO to raise. I might get 5 or 6 cats and end up with only 1 that actually makes it to pupation. Maybe your citrus has some kind of toxin in it, or is sprayed by unknown persons???

    What host plants did you order that are not doing well for you. Perhaps we can help out.

    Susan

  • gwynne2006
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Susan, you say 1 our of 6 GSTs seems to make it? Perhaps that is why I have never seen one! Or maybe I have and thought it was an EST. I am about to send away for false nettle and GST eggs. I was going to get six eggs because I want to make sure everyone has enough host plant. Now I am wondering if I should get more? What makes GSTs so delicate?

    Gwynne

  • susanlynne48
    16 years ago

    I don't really know, Gwynne, if they are more susceptible to predation or what. All I know is I don't have very good luck with them like MissSherry.

    Susan

  • MissSherry
    16 years ago

    GSTs are very vulnerable to predators - they're a favorite of both wasps and stink bugs! :( I raise mine in reptarium/butterfly cages.
    Tdr4, earlier today I released the 41st giant swallowtail that I've released in a little over a week, I'm raising 6 cats and there are more eggs and hatchlings on my host plants. Two of the cats I'm raising now are eating orange tree leaves, and the other four are eating ptelea trifoliata/wafer ash/hops tree leaves - three of the ptelea cats are pupating, in the "C" now, the other one is about to be, but the two orange tree cats are only in about the 3rd instar. Cats grow much faster on ptelea than they do on either citrus leaves or rue leaves, and if you want your citrus tree cats to live at all, you have to give them still tender leaves. I haven't had as many tender leaves to cut for these two citrus cats as I did those in the other batch, so I'm going to get on my ladder and try to find some that don't have eggs and/or hatchling cats on them. Even hatchling GSTs can eat old, relatively tough ptelea leaves and still thrive, plus, ptelea makes a lot of new grow in response to being cut. Since you have to cut a lot of leaves to feed the cats, it stays in an almost continual state of growth, especially when you feed it chicken manure like I do.
    Maybe if you prune and fertilize your citrus tree and water as needed, you'll get lots of new growth so you can successfully raise your giant swallowtails. They're teeming around here!
    Do you want some ptelea trifoliata seeds? I noticed some on my woods bushes. You don't have to do anything special to them, just keep them in a cool place all winter, and plant them in the spring - mine all came up this past spring.
    MissSherry

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